Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Needing the Story More Than It Needs You, a guest post by Elana K. Arnold

Winter, 2020. Where were you?

I was on the couch in my living room, glued to CNN, tracking statistics about rising COVID numbers.

I was in the kitchen, scrubbing my groceries with antibacterial wipes, washing my hands so often that my skin cracked.

I was outside—occasionally—walking around the block, either wearing an n95 or crossing to the other side of the street if I saw a neighbor emerging from their house.

Perhaps you found yourself in similar places, doing similar things, feeling similar fears.

But then, a beautiful thing happened. Harriet Wermer spoke to me.

“My name is Harriet Wermer,” she said. “There are some things you should know about me before I tell you everything else. Let’s start with the worst things first.”

Oh, Harriet. Vibrant, immediate, full of big feelings. And on the move.

By the third chapter, Harriet was boarding a ferry to Marble Island, dragging along her cat Matzo Ball. Whether she liked it or not (she did not), she would be spending the summer at Nanu’s Bric-a-Brac Bed and Breakfast. 

I was with her, face in the wind, the spray of saltwater, the unknowability of what lay ahead feeling not like a threat, but a promise. A promise of new experiences, growth, expansion, mystery, and adventure. Harriet wasn’t thrilled to be leaving home, but I sure was.

I’m a writer of all kinds of fiction, from picture books to really challenging YA. Sometimes, I’ve found myself feeling that I was working against my needs—sometimes because of deadlines, sometimes from a macabre desire to pick at my wounds. But during the early days of the pandemic, like so many of us, I became very aware of the things I needed that I would not get anytime soon, including hugging my siblings and their kids, being a person in the world outside my home, feeling a sense of reasonable security when I did go outside.

I wanted to take care of myself. I wanted to laugh. I wanted to explore. I wanted the gentle, loving-kind feeling that everything would be okay, even if things were messy, even if things were hard.

Did I think about JUST HARRIET this way, when Harriet spoke to me, loud and clear? Was I aware that falling into her world would feel like a balm? I did not. I was not. It wasn’t until I had some distance that I saw what maybe should have been clear: I was sending my character on an island vacation, and I got to tag along just when I needed it most.

Then, thinking about the “challenging YA” novels I’ve written, the ones that felt like wound picking, the ones that made me roar… these books, too, came to me when I needed them.

I think a lot about the unconscious mind, about my intuition that we know a lot more than we think we know. When I work with other writers, I encourage them not to say “no” to their ideas, not to self-flagellate, but instead to say, “Hmm. That’s so interesting, my impulse to explore x or y or z idea. I wonder why I’m drawn to that, and I’m excited to see where it will lead.”

Sometimes, our ideas lead us into challenging, complex, uncomfortable places that we must explore before we can understand them. Sometimes, our ideas lead us somewhere as interesting, bright, and fun as Marble Island. Wherever they lead, I say: Follow. You may need the story even more than it needs you.

And bring your cat along. That’s just good advice, no matter what.

Meet the author

Elana K. Arnold is the award-winning author of many books for children and teens, including the middle grade novels The Question of Miracles, Far from FairA Boy Called Bat, and The House That Wasn’t There as well as the YA novels Red Hood, the Michael L. Printz Honor book Damsel, and the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of. She holds a master’s degree in creative writing/fiction from the University of California, Davis, and is a member of the faculty in Hamline University’s MFA in writing for children and young adults program. Elana currently lives in Huntington Beach, CA, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. You can find her online at www.elanakarnold.com.

About Just Harriet

From the award-winning author of A Boy Called Bat comes a new young middle grade series in the tradition of Ramona and Clementine, starring an unforgettable girl named Harriet.

There are a few things you should know about Harriet Wermer:

  • She just finished third grade. 
  • She has a perfect cat named Matzo Ball. 
  • She doesn’t always tell the truth. 
  • She is very happy to be spending summer vacation away from home and her mom and dad and all the wonderful things she had been planning all year.

Okay, maybe that last one isn’t entirely the truth.

Of course, there’s nothing Harriet doesn’t like about Marble Island, the small island off the coast of California where her nanu runs a cozy little bed and breakfast. And nobody doesn’t love Moneypenny, Nanu’s old basset hound. But Harriet doesn’t like the fact that Dad made this decision without even asking her.

When Harriet arrives on Marble Island, however, she discovers that it’s full of surprises, and even a mystery. One that seems to involve her Dad, back when he was a young boy living on Marble Island. One that Harriet is absolutely going to solve. And that’s the truth.

ISBN-13: 9780063092044
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/01/2022
Age Range: 6 – 10 Years

Book Review: When the World Turned Upside Down by K. Ibura

Publisher’s description

What do you do when the world shuts down? A heartwarming story of friendship and overcoming adversity in a time of COVID, When the World Turns Upside Down is about community, giving back, and understanding the world around us through the power of generosity from debut middle grade author K. Ibura.

Nobody expected a tiny little virus to change the whole world in such a big way, especially not Shayla, Liam, Ai, and Ben. But when school closes to keep everyone safe, their lives turn upside down. It is one thing to learn that the outside world isn’t safe, but why does it seem that the virus is causing trouble inside their homes too?

As they each struggle to adjust to life in quarantine, they discover they are not alone: their apartment building is full of people who need their help. Working together, they begin to see that there is power in numbers. When they cooperate, they can ease each other’s challenges and help their neighbors through tough times. It’s a lesson they’ll need when protests explode in the streets. Soon, each friend has to decide what it means to be part of a community—and how much they’re willing to do to make this world safer for everyone.

Set against the onset of COVID, When the World Turned Upside Down navigates issues of race and social justice in a heartwarming story of generosity, friendship, and the power of youth.

Amanda’s thoughts

Some real talk: I wanted to read this book because of the cover. I wanted to read this book because of the plot, particularly the social justice element. But as I started to read it, sitting in an understaffed school full of people wearing masks, I thought... Wait, can I read about the pandemic and the switch the distance learning while still being in the pandemic and waiting to see if we will once again switch to distance learning? I will admit that I honestly grappled with if I could handle it while still reeling from all the stress and trauma. BUT. But. I started reading. I fell in love with the characters and the voice. And instead of my brain screaming, OH MY GOD, NOT THE PANDEMIC IN MY FICTIONAL ESCAPES TOO! I started to think, Look at these kids deal with lots of issues all at once, exacerbated by this endless pandemic, and look at them find each other, find community, and find ways to help and persevere. It’s a message I needed. And it’s an experience kids need to see too. They can see kids just like them go through what they have just gone through, and are going through, and almost have this somehow feel like historical fiction but we’re in the history right now. It’s a very specific moment and young readers are in it. The kids at my school absolutely love the I Survived series and I kept thinking of this like I Survived the Covid Pandemic, except with better writing (sorry, I Survived series!) and more heart.

The four children in the book all live in the same building and used to be inseparable. The Quartet, as they were called, have since drifted, for a variety of reasons. But now, at a time where their world has shrunk down to mostly just their building, they find each other again, and working together to help their neighbors, they find community and power in helping others. They also experience a range of things that will resonate with readers all the time, but were exacerbated by the pandemic and being stuck home with families. Shayla’s dad, a fashion designer, loses customers because of cancelled events. Liam lives with his stressed and overworked mother and also has panic attacks and lots of anxiety about change and uncertainty. Benjamin’s parents fight a lot and there’s really no escape with everyone working and learning from home. And Ai’s mom hasn’t left her bed in who knows how long, thanks to depression, and her doctor father is exhausted and hardly home. It’s hard. But as so much changes, as so much feels scary and stressful, they come together (often somewhat reluctantly and not without hurt feelings) to help their neighbors, to support each other, and, eventually, to think about and take action concerning racism and police brutality as they watch the country have a racial reckoning in the summer of 2020.

I don’t know if child readers will have the same impulse I had of “too soon!” when I first picked this book up. I kind of suspect they will love seeing something they too have gone through (and, sigh, are still going through) reflected in a novel. Hopefully the takeaway is that even in the most stressful and uncertain times, there is still so much good to be found through helping others, through connecting with friends, and learning and growing. A compelling story full of heart.

Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781338746266
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 02/01/2022
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years

Book Review: At the End of Everything by Marieke Nijkamp

Publisher’s Book Description:

The Hope Juvenile Treatment Center is ironically named. No one has hope for the delinquent teenagers who have been exiled there; the world barely acknowledges that they exist.

Then the guards at Hope start acting strange. And one day…they don’t show up. But when the teens band together to make a break from the facility, they encounter soldiers outside the gates. There’s a rapidly spreading infectious disease outside, and no one can leave their houses or travel without a permit. Which means that they’re stuck at Hope. And this time, no one is watching out for them at all.

As supplies quickly dwindle and a deadly plague tears through their ranks, the group has to decide whom among them they can trust and figure out how they can survive in a world that has never wanted them in the first place.

Karen’s Thoughts: I am a huge fan of this author, but I thought to myself when I saw this, “Do I really want to read a pandemic novel right now?” It turns out, the answer is yes! Because this novel was entertaining but also, it provided me with something I needed more than ever: hope. Not just hope about getting out of this alive, but hope in my fellow humans. Humans have been very disappointing the last couple of years.

I loved this book! It presented us with complex characters that grew in phenomenal ways. I almost never cry while reading books – though interestingly, I cry all the time watching tv/movies – and I cried several times during this book. And I just outright sobbed at the end. But it was sobbing because beautiful things had happened. Where these characters started and who they became in the most difficult of circumstances was just the most beautiful character development I have read in a very long time.

And for those of us who work with teens, we will see so many of our teens in this story. The depth of character and backstory and how trauma informs decision making and motivation, all there on the page. As well as in depth discussions about things like justice, incarceration, the foster care system, and more. There are lots of important and thoughtful nuggets of teen life presented here. And all of that is important, but at the end of the day, this is just a well informed and beautifully written story about a group of people facing insurmountable odds that nothing in life can prepare you for. It’s the book of our times.

These are a group of teens that have already been written off by the system. So when the world ends, they find themsleves alone, as they always have. And when the world says they are not worth saving, can they find a way to save themselves? There is a broad spectrum of representation in these pages, and at the end of the day, it is the characters, their relationships and their journey, that will keep you turning the page hoping that at the end of everything, they find a way to survive.

This book is engaging, thoughtful, heartwarming, entertaining and in the end, inspiring. I highly recommend it.

RevolTeens: What do teens need in times like these? By Teen Librarian Christine Lively

The great concern and anxiety among parents of teens and some educators is, yes COVID, but even more than that – learning loss and teens “falling behind.”

I don’t know who parents think their kids are falling behind. Every one of us is navigating unforeseen circumstances that change constantly.

I just told an educator friend, “I cannot imagine how we could explain what it’s like to be working in schools right to people who are not in schools every day. I feel like I am stuck in a house of mirrors or some other bizarro world. I cannot find my footing because the floor keeps moving.” She added, “AND the floor is made of lava.”  

As a high school librarian, I see how that struggle and uncertainty is affecting students.

Students are overwhelmed with the stress of two years of struggle. Their families are living in fear of serious illness, death, lack of child care, lack of health care, loss of income – especially families that rely on hourly or gig work to pay their bills. Their parents, teachers, coaches – all of the adults around them are stressed out. Teens are in the middle of winter, at the end of the first semester, finishing projects and missing work in a scramble to pull up their grades. They are mostly homebound because of COVID and because it’s cold outside. They constantly hear about how their teachers are letting them “fall behind” some imaginary, arbitrary, progress indicator.

All of this stress has to find a way out. We have no system or plan to help these teens navigate these times. Teachers and librarians are seeing kids and teens act out loudly, angrily, and in some cases violently as they just don’t feel they can take the stress anymore.

RevolTeens need some changes and choices.

One thing that students and my teen coaching clients tell me is that they just want to have some real choices for themselves. I know I am not alone as a parent, teacher, or other concerned adult who has thought that if this kid would just do what I know they need to do, they’d have such a bright future. We want to make choices for them. We know what classes they should take, what school they should attend, what extracurriculars they should have on their applications, etc. We want to “design” their schooling so that they can make big bold choices after high school and enjoy the rewards of their (our) hard work. While we may convince ourselves that we do all of this “for them,” teens are often miserable in the meantime. High school is hard in every way. It’s an artificially intense time with people you cannot avoid for better or for worse, and as a student, you get almost no choice in – anything.

How can we give them choices? I am happy to report that thanks to BookTok – the section of TikTok where people rave and ravage books with reviews and recommendations – more teens are reading! They are reading books that they are excited about. There don’t seem to be enough copies of It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover to meet demand! We have had multiple groups of friends come into our library to check out the same book to read together and talk about. These are books that are purely for enjoyment, not for any academic goal. It has been fantastic to chat with so many more students about what they’re reading and what they want to read. The choice to read a book purely for pleasure is one that gives them a break from their own lives as they delve into a fictional world for a much needed escape.

Another choice that we can give teens is how they choose to relax, spend time, and just get through their day. In our library, we’ve found more students than ever just wanting to come to the library to be in a different space than their classrooms, and they choose different ways to unwind or occupy themselves while they are in the library. Chess games happen all over the library. Before I came to Wakefield High School, I had no idea how heated and full of smack talk a chess game could be! We also have students who love to assemble puzzles, legos are popular, as is coloring. One of the biggest surprises of this year has been the popularity of our manual and electric typewriters. Students approach them as if approaching a creature from Jurassic Park and then are flummoxed by how the keys get stuck and by how hard they have to press down on the keys. Most of the messages typed are just typing practice, but some messages seem to be ideas or feelings that the student needed to say somewhere.

We are always looking for more ideas to help students say what they want and get what they need. During the time they spend chatting about books, crowing about winning a chess game, or typing out a goofy message with the word ‘butt’ in it multiple times, they can forget how the world around them is shifting and scary, for a while. Given the choice, they will find some way to have fun in between the work, fear, and chaos. They can leave the adults to worry needlessly about “falling behind,” “learning loss,” and other dystopian fantasies while they color a page or fit another puzzle piece into place.

That’s what I love about RevolTeens. They find a way.

About Christine Lively

Christine Lively a school librarian in Virginia. I read voraciously, exchange ideas with students, and am a perpetual student. I raise monarch butterflies, cook, clean infrequently and enjoy an extensive hippo collection. I am a Certified Life Coach for Kids 14-24 and my website is christinelively.com. Christine blogs at https://hippodillycircus.com/ and you can follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/XineLively.

Book Review: Overground Railroad (The Young Adult Adaptation): The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America by Candacy Taylor

Publisher’s description

A young reader’s edition of Candacy Taylor’s acclaimed book about the history of the Green Book, the guide for Black travelers.

Overground Railroad chronicles the history of the Green Book, which was published from 1936 to 1966 and was the “Black travel guide to America.” For years, it was dangerous for African Americans to travel in the United States. Because of segregation, Black travelers couldn’t eat, sleep, or even get gas at most white-owned businesses.

The Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, department stores, gas stations, recreational destinations, and other businesses that were safe for Black travelers. It was a resourceful and innovative solution to a horrific problem. It took courage to be listed in the Green Book, and the stories from those who took a stand against racial segregation are recorded and celebrated.

This young reader’s edition of Candacy Taylor’s critically acclaimed adult book Overground Railroad includes her own photographs of Green Book sites, as well as archival photographs and interviews with people who owned and used these facilities. The book also includes an author’s note, endnotes, bibliography, timeline, and index.

Amanda’s thoughts

This was the first new book I started in 2022 (I spent the first day of 2022 finishing up Danielle Henderson’s fantastic The Ugly Cry) and as I read, I kept thinking, on day two of the year can I really already say this might be one of my favorite reads this year? I think so!

I knew very little about the Green Book until I read Clean Getaway by Nic Stone, which left me wanting to know a lot more. This book filled that need for me and gave me so much more than I was expecting. We not only learn about the Green Book, how it was started, distributed, and used (to make travel safer for Black people and serve as a guide for where to safely stop for a variety of services), but learn so much about everything related to the Green Book. Here are just some of the topics covered: the businesses featured in the book; the rise of the automobile industry and how it affected the lives of Black people; race relations/protests/riots/boycotts of the era; sundown towns; beach and National Park use; Black soldiers in WWII; banking; Black colleges; housing; train travel; music venues; the perils of driving on Route 66; the expansion of freeways destroying Black communities; tourist homes; the Black hair care industry; women-run and women-owned businesses; the KKK and white terrorism; colorism; what the 1964 Civil Rights Act meant for travel; and so much more. That covers a phenomenal amount of ground, right? This is truly a crash course in the politics and race relations of the time.

Taylor also spends the final few chapters detailing life after the Green Book stopped being published. She discusses what integration and what white businesses beginning to serve Black customers meant for those long-standing Black businesses that were now losing customers. She explores the war on drugs, mass incarceration, uprisings and protests, and the continued discrimination of and violence toward Black people.

To learn about the Green Book, as Taylor has shown us, is to learn about the history of segregation and discrimination in the 1930s through 1960s. Readers won’t have to work hard to see the through lines to so many aspects of modern life, and to understand both how far we’ve come and how much is, appallingly, still the same. This beautifully designed book has many brief chapters, extensive photographs from the eras covered, and ads and other material from Green Books. This well-researched book is not to be missed.

Review copy (finished) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 978-1419749490

Publisher: Amulet Books

Publication date: 01/25/2022

Ages 12+

Book Review: The Supervillain’s Guide to Being a Fat Kid by Matt Wallace

Publisher’s description

Matt Wallace, author of Bump, presents a personal, humorous, and body-positive middle grade standalone about a fat kid who wants to stop his bullies . . . and enlists the help of the world’s most infamous supervillain. Perfect for fans of Holly Goldberg Sloan, Julie Murphy, and John David Anderson!

Max’s first year of middle school hasn’t been easy. Eighth-grade hotshot Johnny Pro torments Max constantly, for no other reason than Max is fat and an easy target. Max wishes he could fight back, but he doesn’t want to hurt Johnny . . . just make him feel the way Max feels.

In desperation, Max writes to the only person he thinks will understand: imprisoned supervillain Master Plan, a “gentleman of size.” To his surprise, Master Plan wants to help! He suggests a way for Max to get even with Johnny Pro, and change how the other kids at school see them both.

And it works! When Master Plan’s help pays off for Max in ways he couldn’t have imagined, he starts gaining confidence—enough to finally talk to Marina, the girl he likes in class who shares his passion for baking. With Master Plan in his corner, anything seems possible . . . but is there a price to pay for the supervillain’s help?

* A Junior Library Guild selection *

Amanda’s thoughts

In a world where there are literal superheroes and villains, Max is interested in the villains—specifically, in imprisoned supervillain Maximo Marconius III, otherwise known as Master Plan. Superheroes just make everything worse, in Max’s eyes, and never have to deal with the fallout of their fights or actions. He feels an affinity for Maximo, and when his woes and stresses of middle school become overwhelming, he writes to Maximo, asking for advice. The two strike up an email correspondence and Maximo offers him surprisingly great advice (surprising because when we think of supervillains, we don’t maybe thinking of being compassionate and of dissuading violence).

Max is being bullied at school by an older boy and his crew, primarily for being fat, and it’s making him miserable. In his initial letter, he tells Maximo he knows there’s nothing wrong with being fat or using the word fat—but knowing those things doesn’t stop the other kids from being brutal or stop Max from being afraid of and tired of their taunting. Maximo, aka Master Plan, reminds him that violence is never the answer, but exposing your enemies’ lack of imagination and own weaknesses is a far more effective tool. They continue to share worries and advice, and again, some of it is so useful for ANYONE to hear. Maximo reminds Max that girls don’t owe him time or attention and that he can’t “make” girls like him, as no one should be made to do anything. He constantly encourages him to be his best self, to feel eligible to participate in his own life, and tells him it is unacceptable to have to live in fear of bullies.

Sound advice that all middle school kids could really use, right?!

But, despite all this great advice, including some advice on how to dress comfortably/for your body type and slowly change your look (after years of your mother basically making all your clothing and appearance choices) and to only make changes that will make you happy (in other words, don’t do them for other people), things eventually go sideways. There’s the fact that Luca, Max’s one friend, who is poor, feels left behind by Max as he has new experiences and gets new clothes, which causes tension between the boys. And there’s the fact that Max is keeping lots of secrets. And that he eventually gets some revenge, but it sure doesn’t feel great, especially once he figures out just exactly what Maximo, called Master Plan for a reason, was up to.

Here’s what I loved: a real and honest friendship between two boys (who eventually learn how to fully confide in each other, how to comfort each other, and how to be vulnerable in front of each other); the confidence Max learns by embracing his full self; that we see a boy dealing with body issues (and that he never hates himself for this, he never attempts to lose weight, and he’s reminded over and over that being fat is okay and the word is simply a descriptor); and the unique setting of a world where there are superheroes and supervillains. The plot moves quickly, the voice is compelling, and while full of smart advice about self-worth and acceptance, readers will know to be on the lookout for something more going on, because a supervillain can’t just be doling out helpful life advice to a middle schooler, can he?

This was a solid read especially for those who need a reminder that being bullied is never their fault and that they deserve to be active participants in their own life—no one should have to hide themselves or live in fear. I loved Bump, also by Wallace, and look forward to seeing what else he writes for this age!

Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780063008038
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/25/2022
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years

Tech and MakerSpace Review: Instax Wide Instant Photo Printer

I have long been an advocate of libraries having a photo printer, especially if they have a MakerSpace. Don’t get me wrong, I think a photo printer goes far beyond just being useful if you have a MakerSpace, because they are great for displays, promotion and more. There are a lot of photo printer options out there and I have tried almost all of them – what can I say, I have issues – and today I’m here to talk to you about the new Instax Wide printer.

Regular readers know that I have long been obsessed with instant photography and have talked frequently about the fun ways you can use it in your libraries (some links below). But if you want the look and feel of instant photography without the unpredictability of the instant camera, you can try instant photo printers. Instant photo printers print photos from your smart device onto instant film. There are Instax Mini and Instax Square printers, and they just introduced the Instax Wide printer in the last few months. These printers allow you to get the look of an instant photo without the unpredictability that often comes with using an instant camera.

If you are going to choose an Instax/Instant printer for your library, I recommend that you choose the Instax Wide because it has a feature that I think will work really well for us in libraries: the QR code.

I am the first to admit that I did not think QR codes were going to ever be a thing, but they have definitely seen a resurgence since the pandemic. The Instax Wide printer allows you to quickly and easily add a QR code right onto a photo that you are printing. You can link to a web page, record a short message and more. Just imagine, you could take a photo of a book that you have made a book trailer for, add a QR code to it that will take your students to the book trailer, and put it on a display wall. Just hang them up randomly in hallways, in classrooms and on the display wall outside your library. Or, if you have a program coming up, create a webpage with info about the program and link to it with a QR code on promo photos you place around your library.

In a recent post, I walked you through how I used 2 apps to create an image with a QR code that led you to a recording or webpage, but here you can do it all at once in one app. It’s quick and easy. I am a fan!

I like instant photo printers as opposed to instant cameras because it allows me to create the exact image that I want and then print it onto the instant photo film. It turns out I like the final product a lot, but the unpredictability of instant photography not so much. And I have tried the Instax Mini, the Instax Square and now the Instax Wide printer. They all work basically the same but the Instax Wide has this added feature that makes it my go to recommendation at the moment. I have a variety of photo apps that I use to create my desired image, then I print it directly onto instant photo paper. I get the final look I want because I have more control.

In addition to the QR code option, the Instax Wide allows you to add stickers

It also has preset frames that you can edit and collage options.

The Instax Wide printer also comes with a stand and I just leave it up in my house and print whenever I want. And if you want to print more than 1 copy of a picture, there’s an easy option for that. The Instax Wide paper is larger than both the mini and the square, but the final image is rectangular. And of course you have that cool white edge that you can write directly onto if you would like.

Like all Instant printers, the total cost of print per picture comes to about $1.00 a picture. It’s definitely not the cheapest option out there. However, if you want the instant photography look with some fun bells and whistles, this is my favorite of the options out there.

If you are willing to do a little more work and want a cheaper option. the Canon Selphy printer may be the better option for you. Not the Selphy Square, the Selphy original. It also has an app that allows you to do things like print photo strips, do a collage, etc. and the cost is slightly less than the Instax printers of any variety. Using some apps and the process I outlined in my previous post, you could still print an image with a QR code using the Selphy. So, if you want QR codes quick and easy, go with the Instax Wide. If you want more variety and a cheaper cost, go with the Selphy.

So here’s my current standing for photo printers:

Number One overall for versatility and cost: Canon Selphy Printer

Number Two overall for instant film look and for the ease of QR codes: Instax Wide.

Whatever choice works best for your situation, I do recommend getting some type of photo printer for your library. They’re quick, they’re cool, and they are instant. There are so many creative things you can do with a photo printer in your library! And tweens and teens love to see themselves on display in your library. And if you have a makerspace, there are so many creative craft types of things you can go with photos.

From the archives:


Post-It Note Reviews: A brave little garlic, graphic novel biographies, opioid addiction, a new slayer, and more!

Post-it Note Reviews are a great way to display books in your library or classroom, a way to let kids recommend their favorite titles without having to get up in front of everyone and do a book talk, and an easy way to offer a more personal recommendation than just the flap copy offers.

Frequent blog readers may have noticed I’m doing a lot more post-it-style reviews and less longer, individual review posts. It’s been so hard for authors to be able to promote their books, through things like release parties or festivals or other events, and I want to share as many books as I can particularly these days to help them get the exposure they deserve. (Also? Existing in reality all the time is exhausting and frustrating, so more than ever with any free second I have, I’m cracking open a book).

All descriptions from the publishers. Transcriptions of the Post-It notes are below each description. Reading those is your best bet—carpal tunnel has made my handwriting mostly a disaster!

Secrets of Camp Whatever Vol. 1 by Chris Grine (ISBN-13: 9781620108628 Publisher: Oni Press Publication date: 03/30/2021, Ages 9-12)

Perfect for fans of Lumberjanes and Brain Camp, there’s more than mosquitos at Camp Whatever and Willow will need to face truths about herself and her family as summer camp dread goes head to head with the supernatural.

Eleven year-old Willow doesn’t want to go to her dad’s weird old summer camp any more than she wants her family to move to the weird old town where that camp is located. But her family—and fate itself—seem to have plans of their own. Soon Willow finds herself neck-deep in a confounding mystery involving stolen snacks, suspected vampires, and missing campers, all shrouded in the sinister fog that hides a generation of secrets at Camp … Whatever it’s called.

(POST-IT SAYS: I don’t know why anyone would send their kids to this camp, but I’m glad they do! Creepy humans and kind creatures give Willow (who is Deaf) and friends a summer they’ll never forget—well, unless they’re hypnotized to do just that! Good fun.)

Garlic and the Vampire by Bree Paulsen (ISBN-13: 9780062995094 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/28/2021, Ages 8-12)

An enchanting, farm-fresh debut graphic novel starring an unusual heroine who is braver than she realizes, for middle grade readers looking for a cozy, adventuresome read in the vein of Witch Boy or Be Prepared.

Garlic feels as though she’s always doing something wrong. At least with her friend Carrot by her side and the kindly Witch Agnes encouraging her, Garlic is happy to just tend her garden, where it’s nice and safe.

But when her village of vegetable folk learns that a bloodthirsty vampire has moved into the nearby castle, they all agree that, in spite of her fear and self-doubt, Garlic is the obvious choice to confront him. And with everyone counting on her, Garlic reluctantly agrees to face the mysterious vampire, hoping she has what it takes.

After all, garlic drives away vampires…right?

(POST-IT SAYS: I’m in love with this book. Anxious little Garlic finds bravery and discovers things aren’t always as bad or scary as we build them up to be. I want to climb in this book and explore the cozy homes and beautiful gardens. A perfect book.)

Food-Related Stories by Gaby Melian, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593223499 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/18/2022 Series: Pocket Change Collective, Ages 12-17)

“Gaby Melian tells so many stories through her relationship with food—about love, about loss, about hard work, and about finding her passion. The pages are dripping with delicious smells and tastes, and will give you a new way to look at both cooking and what it means to have a plan.” —Molly Birnbaum, editor in chief, America’s Test Kitchen Kids

In this moving, personal account, chef and activist Gaby Melian shares her journey with food and how creating a relationship with food — however simple or complicated — is a form of activism in its own right.

Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us. This is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists.

“Food rescued me so many other times — not only because I sold food to survive. I cook to entertain; I cook to be liked; I cook to be loved.” In this installment, chef and activist Gaby Melian shares her personal journey with food — from growing up in Argentina to her time as a Jersey City street vendor and later, as Bon Appetit‘s test kitchen manager. Powerful and full of heart, here, Melian explores how we can develop a relationship with food that’s healthy, sustainable, and thoughtful.

(POST-IT SAYS: I adore this series. I did want to know more about Melian’s many jobs/undertakings, but was moved by her passion for food as adventure, story, family, love, strength, and more.)

Who Sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott?: Rosa Parks: A Who HQ Graphic Novel by Insha Fitzpatrick, Abelle Hayford (Illustrator), Hanna Schroy (Colorist), Who HQ (ISBN-13: 9780593224465 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/11/2022 Series: Who HQ Graphic Novels, Ages 8-12)

Discover the story behind Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in this compelling graphic novel — written by Oh My Gods! author Insha Fitzpatrick and illustrated by #DrawingWhileBlack organizer Abelle Hayford.

Presenting Who HQ Graphic Novels: an exciting new addition to the #1 New York Times Best-Selling Who Was? series!

From refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger to sparking civil rights protests across America, explore how Rosa Parks’s powerful act earned her the title “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.” A story of resistance, strength, and unwavering spirit, this graphic novel invites readers to immerse themselves in the life of the American Civil Rights leader — brought to life by gripping narrative and vivid full-color illustrations that jump off the page.

(POST-IT SAYS: Love that they’re now doing graphic novels! Lots of context here on civil rights, major players (including Claudette Colvin), Jim Crow laws, boycotts, the harassment Parks faced, etc. Extremely informational.)

Who Was the Voice of the People?: Cesar Chavez: A Who HQ Graphic Novel by Terry Blas, Mar Julia (Illustrator), Who HQ (ISBN-13: 9780593224496 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/11/2022 Series: Who HQ Graphic Novels, Ages 8-12)

Discover the story behind Cesar Chavez and the Delano Grape Strike in this moving graphic novel — written by award-winning author Terry Blas and illustrated by Ignatz-nominated cartoonist Mar Julia.

Presenting Who HQ Graphic Novels: an exciting new addition to the #1 New York Times Best-Selling Who Was? series!

Follow Cesar Chavez and the National Farm Workers Association, as they set out on a difficult 300-mile protest march in support of farm workers’ rights. A story of hope, solidarity, and perseverance, this graphic novel invites readers to immerse themselves in the life of the famous Latino American Civil Rights leader — brought to life by gripping narrative and vivid full-color illustrations that jump off the page.

(POST-IT SAYS: A solid introduction to Chavez, the farm laborer movement, the grapes strike, the National Farm Workers Association, and the long march from Delano to Sacramento. A great look at protest and activism.)

You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow (ISBN-13: 9780525708049 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 09/28/2021, Ages 14-17)

From the New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces comes a stunning novel that Vanity Fair calls “impossibly moving” and “suffused with light”. In this raw, deeply personal story, a teenaged girl struggles to find herself amidst the fallout of her brother’s addiction in a town ravaged by the opioid crisis.

For all of Emory’s life she’s been told who she is. In town she’s the rich one—the great-great-granddaughter of the mill’s founder. At school she’s hot Maddie Ward’s younger sister. And at home, she’s the good one, her stoner older brother Joey’s babysitter. Everything was turned on its head, though, when she and Joey were in the car accident that killed Candy MontClaire. The car accident that revealed just how bad Joey’s drug habit was.

Four months later, Emmy’s junior year is starting, Joey is home from rehab, and the entire town of Mill Haven is still reeling from the accident. Everyone’s telling Emmy who she is, but so much has changed, how can she be the same person? Or was she ever that person at all?

Mill Haven wants everyone to live one story, but Emmy’s beginning to see that people are more than they appear. Her brother, who might not be “cured,” the popular guy who lives next door, and most of all, many “ghostie” addicts who haunt the edges of the town. People spend so much time telling her who she is—it might be time to decide for herself.

A journey of one sister, one brother, one family, to finally recognize and love each other for who they are, not who they are supposed to be, You’d Be Home Now is Kathleen Glasgow’s glorious and heartbreaking story about the opioid crisis, and how it touches all of us.

(POST-IT SAYS: A powerful, sad, and deeply compassionate look at addiction. Glasgow writes amazing books and this might be her best yet. A nuanced and affecting exploration of how addiction isn’t a person’s whole story. Just gutting.)

In Every Generation by Kendare Blake (ISBN-13: 9781368075022 Publisher: Disney Press Publication date: 01/04/2022, Ages 12-18)

Return to Sunnydale in a brand-new series by New York Times best-selling author Kendare Blake, set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Frankie Rosenberg wasn’t yet alive when her mom, Willow, her aunt Buffy, and the original Scooby Gang destroyed the Hellmouth and saved the world from the First Evil. These days, life in New Sunnydale is blissfully quiet. Frankie is just trying to survive her sophomore year at the rebuilt high school and use her budding magical powers to make the world a better place.

But that world is suddenly plunged into danger when the slayer community is the target of a deadly attack, leaving the future of the line uncertain. Then Frankie discovers she’s sort of freakishly strong. Oh, and there’s something Willow never told her about her true identity.

Cue the opening credits.

Quicker than she can carve a stake, Frankie discovers there’s more to saving the world than witty one-liners and stupid hot demons. now everyone looks to her for answers, but speaking up has never been her strong suit. And it’s hard to be taken seriously when your mom is such a powerful witch she almost ended the world once, while your greatest magic trick is recycling.

Despite the many challenges standing in her way, Frankie must assemble her own bumbling Scooby Gang, get dressed up in Buffy’s (vintage ’90s) clothes, and become a new slayer for a new generation—before whatever came for the rest of the slayers comes for her next.

(POST-IT SAYS: At my house, we watch Buffy and Angel on an endless loop, so of course I loved this new addition to the Scoobies canon. Did I read this with a critical eye? No. Did I love being back in Sunnydale and want more? Yes. Good thing two more books are to come.)

Just Roll with It: (A Graphic Novel) by Veronica Agarwal, Lee Durfey-Lavoie (ISBN-13: 9781984896995 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 12/14/2021 Series: Just Roll with It #1, Ages 8-12)

Starting middle school is hard enough when you don’t know anyone; it’s even harder when you’re shy. A contemporary middle-grade graphic novel for fans of Guts and Real Friends about how dealing with anxiety and OCD can affect everyday life.

As long as Maggie rolls the right number, nothing can go wrong…right?

Maggie just wants to get through her first year of middle school. But between finding the best after-school clubs, trying to make friends, and avoiding the rumored monster on school grounds, she’s having a tough time…so she might need a little help from her twenty-sided dice. But what happens if Maggie rolls the wrong number?

A touching middle-grade graphic novel that explores the complexity of anxiety, OCD, and learning to trust yourself and the world around you.

(POST-IT SAYS: I love that this addresses getting help for mental health health issues (OCD and anxiety), that Maggie’s whole family is so great, and that we see her make new friends and join a club. Really great, complex story and fantastic art. Hope to see a lot more from this pair!)

Just Harriet by Elana K. Arnold (ISBN-13: 9780063092044 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 02/01/2022, Ages 6-10)

From the award-winning author of A Boy Called Bat comes a new young middle grade series in the tradition of Ramona and Clementine, starring an unforgettable girl named Harriet.

There are a few things you should know about Harriet Wermer:

  • She just finished third grade. 
  • She has a perfect cat named Matzo Ball. 
  • She doesn’t always tell the truth. 
  • She is very happy to be spending summer vacation away from home and her mom and dad and all the wonderful things she had been planning all year.

Okay, maybe that last one isn’t entirely the truth.

Of course, there’s nothing Harriet doesn’t like about Marble Island, the small island off the coast of California where her nanu runs a cozy little bed and breakfast. And nobody doesn’t love Moneypenny, Nanu’s old basset hound. But Harriet doesn’t like the fact that Dad made this decision without even asking her.

When Harriet arrives on Marble Island, however, she discovers that it’s full of surprises, and even a mystery. One that seems to involve her Dad, back when he was a young boy living on Marble Island. One that Harriet is absolutely going to solve. And that’s the truth.

(POST-IT SAYS: I can think of so many kids at work who will love this gentle story with a very spirited main character. If your Judy Moody or Clementine read alouds need an update, try Harriet. Good for 2nd and 3rd grades.)

Just Right Jillian by Nicole D. Collier (ISBN-13: 9780358434610 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 02/01/2022, Ages 8-12)

In this heartfelt middle-grade novel from debut author Nicole D. Collier, fifth-grader Jillian must learn to speak and break free of her shell to enter her school’s academic competition and keep her promise to her grandmother. 

Fifth-grader Jillian will do just about anything to blend in, including staying quiet even when she has the right answer. After she loses a classroom competition because she won’t speak up, she sets her mind on winning her school’s biggest competition. But breaking out of her shell is easier said than done, and Jillian has only a month to keep her promise to her grandmother and prove to herself that she can speak up and show everyone her true self. 

A warm and relatable middle-grade debut novel about family, friendship, and finding the confidence to break free from the crowd and be who you truly are. 

(POST-IT SAYS: Oh, sweet Jillian—I see you. Great story about learning to speak up, to believe in yourself, to not allow yourself to be invisible. Shy and with social anxiety, Jillian works through her fears and makes her own path. Authentic and a real delight.)

Book Mail: Time travel, a hockey romance, the power in being difficult, and more!

You know, it was months and months ago, probably even more than a year ago, that I was first like, “Book mail is about the only good thing going these days, because pandemic.” And guess what? Here we are, almost two entire years into this mess, and I still feel the same way. As a person with an anxiety disorder, my anxiety motor has been spinning so fast for so long that I’m not sure I will know what to do if it ever begins to slow down. So I find comfort in small delights and bits of normalcy. Books showing up here provide both. Thank you, publishers!

My cart of books to attempt to read is overflowing and no matter how many books I send out the door (to my kid’s high school, to my elementary school, through giveaways), just as many reappear soon after. Good problems to have, I know.

Here’s a look at what has arrived here lately. Get out your TBR lists, your order lists, your library card, and be ready to dive into lots of new and interesting books!

All descriptions from the publishers.

Spin Me Right Round by David Valdes (ISBN-13: 9781547607105 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 01/04/2022, Ages 12-17)

From lauded writer David Valdes, a sharp and funny YA novel that’s Back to the Future with a twist, as a gay teen travels back to his parents’ era to save a closeted classmate’s life.

All Luis Gonzalez wants is to go to prom with his boyfriend, something his “progressive” school still doesn’t allow. Not after what happened with Chaz Wilson. But that was ages ago, when Luis’s parents were in high school; it would never happen today, right? He’s determined to find a way to give his LGBTQ friends the respect they deserve (while also not risking his chance to be prom king, just saying…).

When a hit on the head knocks him back in time to 1985 and he meets the doomed young Chaz himself, Luis concocts a new plan-he’s going to give this guy his first real kiss. Though it turns out a conservative school in the ’80s isn’t the safest place to be a gay kid. Especially with homophobes running the campus, including Gordo (aka Luis’s estranged father). Luis is in over his head, trying not to make things worse-and hoping he makes it back to present day at all.

In a story that’s fresh, intersectional, and wickedly funny, David Valdes introduces a big-mouthed, big-hearted queer character that readers won’t soon forget.

Food-Related Stories by Gaby Melian, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593223499 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/18/2022 Series: Pocket Change Collective, Ages 12-17)

“Gaby Melian tells so many stories through her relationship with food—about love, about loss, about hard work, and about finding her passion. The pages are dripping with delicious smells and tastes, and will give you a new way to look at both cooking and what it means to have a plan.” —Molly Birnbaum, editor in chief, America’s Test Kitchen Kids

In this moving, personal account, chef and activist Gaby Melian shares her journey with food and how creating a relationship with food — however simple or complicated — is a form of activism in its own right.

Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us. This is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists.

“Food rescued me so many other times — not only because I sold food to survive. I cook to entertain; I cook to be liked; I cook to be loved.” In this installment, chef and activist Gaby Melian shares her personal journey with food — from growing up in Argentina to her time as a Jersey City street vendor and later, as Bon Appetit‘s test kitchen manager. Powerful and full of heart, here, Melian explores how we can develop a relationship with food that’s healthy, sustainable, and thoughtful.

Icebreaker by A. L. Graziadei (ISBN-13: 9781250777119 Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) Publication date: 01/18/2022, Ages 14-18)

A. L. Graziadei’s Icebreaker is an irresistible YA debut about two hockey players fighting to be the best—and the romance that catches them by surprise along the way.

Seventeen-year-old Mickey James III is a college freshman, a brother to five sisters, and a hockey legacy. With a father and a grandfather who have gone down in NHL history, Mickey is almost guaranteed the league’s top draft spot.

The only person standing in his way is Jaysen Caulfield, a contender for the #1 spot and Mickey’s infuriating (and infuriatingly attractive) teammate. When rivalry turns to something more, Mickey will have to decide what he really wants, and what he’s willing to risk for it.

This is a story about falling in love, finding your team (on and off the ice), and choosing your own path.

The Deep Blue Between by Ayesha Harruna Attah (ISBN-13: 9781728442884 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 03/01/2022, Ages 12+)

Twin sisters Hassana and Husseina have always shared their lives.

But after a raid on their village in 1892, the twins are torn apart. Taken in different directions, far from their home in rural West Africa, each sister finds freedom and a new start. Hassana settles in in the city of Accra, where she throws herself into working for political and social change. Husseina travels to Salvador, Brazil, where she becomes immersed in faith, worshipping spirits that bridge the motherland and the new world. Separated by an ocean, they forge new families, ward off dangers, and begin to truly know themselves.

As the twins pursue their separate paths, they remain connected through their shared dreams. But will they ever manage to find each other again?

The Color of the Sky Is the Shape of the Heart by Chesil, Takami Nieda (Translator) (ISBN-13: 9781641292290 Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated Publication date: 04/05/2022, Ages 13-17)

Now in translation for the first time, the award-winning debut that broke literary ground in Japan explores diaspora, prejudice, and the complexities of a teen girl’s experience growing up as a Zainichi Korean, reminiscent of Min Jin Lee’s classic Pachinko and Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street.

Seventeen-year-old Ginny Park is about to get expelled from high school—again. Stephanie, the picture book author who took Ginny into her Oregon home after she was kicked out of school in Hawaii, isn’t upset; she only wants to know why. But Ginny has always been in-between. She can’t bring herself to open up to anyone about her past, or about what prompted her to flee her native Japan. Then, Ginny finds a mysterious scrawl among Stephanie’s scraps of paper and storybook drawings that changes everything: The sky is about to fall. Where do you go?

Ginny sets off on the road in search of an answer, with only her journal as a confidante. In witty and brutally honest vignettes, and interspersed with old letters from her expatriated family in North Korea, Ginny recounts her adolescence growing up Zainichi, an ethnic Korean born in Japan, and the incident that forced her to leave years prior. Inspired by her own childhood, author Chesil creates a portrait of a girl who has been fighting alone against barriers of prejudice, nationality, and injustice all her life—and one searching for a place to belong.

Gold Mountain by Betty G. Yee (ISBN-13: 9781728415826 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 04/05/2022, Ages 12+)

Working on the Transcontinental Railroad promises a fortune—for those who survive.

Growing up in 1860s China, Tam Ling Fan has lived a life of comfort. Her father is wealthy enough to provide for his family but unconventional enough to spare Ling Fan from the debilitating foot-binding required of most well-off girls. But Ling Fan’s life is upended when her brother dies of influenza and their father is imprisoned under false accusations. Hoping to earn the money that will secure her father’s release, Ling Fan disguises herself as a boy and takes her brother’s contract to work for the Central Pacific Railroad Company in America.

Life on “the Gold Mountain” is grueling and dangerous. To build the railroad that will connect the west coast to the east, Ling Fan and other Chinese laborers lay track and blast tunnels through the treacherous peaks of the Sierra Nevada, facing cave-ins, avalanches, and blizzards—along with hostility from white Americans.

When someone threatens to expose Ling Fan’s secret, she must take an even greater risk to save what’s left of her family . . . and to escape the Gold Mountain alive.

How to Be a Difficult Bitch: Claim Your Power, Ditch the Haters, and Feel Good Doing It by Halley Bondy, Mary C. Fernandez, Sharon Lynn Pruitt-Young, Zara Hanawalt (ISBN-13: 9781541586758 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 04/05/2022, Ages 14+)

In the past, being a “difficult bitch” was bad. Girls weren’t supposed to call people out for their BS, stand up for themselves, or do their own thing. This book embraces the insult with irreverent humor, encouraging readers to be themselves no matter what, including an exploration of the ways this phrase can be interpreted differently among people of different backgrounds.

Being a powerhouse is a choice. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a code of ethics. It takes work, a thick skin, and perseverance. In this book, you’ll learn the ins and outs of being a Difficult Bitch, from school to friends to body to life.

Attention Hijacked: Using Mindfulness to Reclaim Your Brain from Tech by Erica B. Marcus (ISBN-13: 9781728417196 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 05/03/2022, Ages 13+)

Technology surrounds us every day: a phone alarm wakes us up, an electronic calendar tracks assignment deadlines, GPS directs us to the new dentist’s office, social media keeps us connected to friends and family, and streaming platforms make sure we’re never without something new to binge-watch. Our devices and apps can make life much more convenient and entertaining.

But for years, scientists have warned that too much screen time may have negative effects on our health. With portable devices and remote learning, it is even more difficult to put down electronics. Being intentional about how and when to unplug can help teens and young adults to protect their physical and mental wellbeing in a world where screens and technology are increasingly becoming necessities rather than just conveniences.

Attention Hijacked offers a roadmap for those deciding how they want to deal with technology, exploring the ways technology affects the individual, dispelling common misinformation, and using this knowledge to make personalized decisions. Page Plus links in the book lead to mindfulness and meditation audio clips. Using mindfulness techniques, this book gives readers the power to take charge of their technology use.

The Language of Seabirds by Will Taylor (ISBN-13: 9781338753738 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 07/19/2022, Ages 8-12)

A sweet, tender middle-grade story of two boys finding first love with each other over a seaside summer.

Jeremy is not excited about the prospect of spending the summer with his dad and his uncle in a seaside cabin in Oregon. It’s the first summer after his parents’ divorce, and he hasn’t exactly been seeking alone time with his dad. He doesn’t have a choice, though, so he goes… and on his first day takes a walk on the beach and finds himself intrigued by a boy his age running by. Eventually, he and Runner Boy (Evan) meet — and what starts out as friendship blooms into something neither boy is expecting… and also something both boys have been secretly hoping for.

The Honeys by Ryan La Sala (ISBN-13: 9781338745313 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 08/02/2022, Ages 14-18)

From Ryan La Sala, the wildly popular author of Reverie, comes a twisted and tantalizing horror novel set amidst the bucolic splendor of a secluded summer retreat.

Mars has always been the lesser twin, the shadow to his sister Caroline’s radiance. But when Caroline dies under horrific circumstances, Mars is propelled to learn all he can about his once-inseparable sister who’d grown tragically distant.

Mars’s genderfluidity means he’s often excluded from the traditions — and expectations — of his politically-connected family. This includes attendance at the prestigious Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy where his sister poured so much of her time. But with his grief still fresh, he insists on attending in her place.

What Mars finds is a bucolic fairytale not meant for him. Folksy charm and sun-drenched festivities camouflage old-fashioned gender roles and a toxic preparatory rigor. Mars seeks out his sister’s old friends: a group of girls dubbed the Honeys, named for the beehives they maintain behind their cabin. They are beautiful and terrifying — and Mars is certain they’re connected to Caroline’s death.

But the longer he stays at Aspen, the more the sweet mountain breezes give way to hints of decay. Mars’s memories begin to falter, bleached beneath the relentless summer sun. Something is hunting him in broad daylight, toying with his mind. If Mars can’t find it soon, it will eat him alive.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Three Games I Want to Try with My Teens, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

 One fun way to incorporate programming with teens into your library is to play games. Yes, good old fashioned board games. We review them regularly here at TLT. Today I am sharing with you 3 board games that I want to try with teens. These aren’t reviews, just a look at some games out there that I want to try. If you’ve played them, share your thoughts in the comments.


I know birding has gone up in popularity because of the pandemic and people have more time to spend in nature. This game allows you to play the role of a birder. You try to get rare birds to come to your preserve. This game is rated 14 and up and allows for 1-5 players. I think the age range is more about interest than content. The artwork is said to be spectacular.  There is an expansion pack of European birds. I think fans of Ticket to Ride might enjoy this game, also of course, bird fans.


The goal is to create mosaics for the Portuguese monarch King Manuel I. You can earn extra points by making patterns and collecting different sets of tiles. This game is for people ages 8- and up. It can be played 2-4 players. This is a good game for people who like tile games such as Tsuro.

Happy Little Dinosaurs

In this game you are a dinosaur just trying to survive the end of your world. You can win by being the last one standing or reaching fifty points. You are trying to avoid various catastrophes. This game is for people ages 8 and up. You can include  2-5 players. This is an expansion pack if you want to play with more players. This game is cute and would go well for fans of Exploding Kittens or Gloom.

What games are you playing with your teens?

Cindy Shutts, MLIS

Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching FIre, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.